2018 Year in Review
Greetings Supporters and Allies
As we close out 2018, join us for a short walk back in time to celebrate a productive year for Cooperation Jackson. Our fourth year was a very trying time of challenges, transitions and reorganization (please read a detailed report in “Reflections on 2018: A Year of Struggle, Lessons and Progress”). We are growing stronger and more determined from our experiences and we are looking forward to 2019. Check out:
- Cooperative Updates
- Highlights of exchanges, skill shares, and events locally, nationally and internationally
- Key media coverage of our work
- What's next
The Grind - daily, weekly, and monthly - Monthly Membership Meetings, Kazi (Work) Mobs, Political Education, Door to Door outreach, Film Nights, Men’s Groups, Self-Defense Classes, Human Rights Institute Meetings, Monthly Newsletter Production and Distribution, Trainings and Education Sessions, Stewarding our land trust.
Building and Developing Cooperatives
Freedom Farms Coop
This past Spring and Summer, Freedom Farms made substantial progress with an increase in production, sales to our membership, the neighboring West Jackson community, the Mississippi Farmers Market, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, Cash and Carry Grocery, and several restaurants in town. Freedom Farms presently has two worker owners and works with a network of regular volunteers to expand its capacity.
The Green Team
Our Lawn Care Cooperative, is growing rapidly. It currently provides regular lawn services to 10 clients and provides lawn care services for our Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust's 40 plus properties. The Green Team presently has two worker owners and one employee.
Community Production Initiative
We are excited to announce the Community Production Center’s renovation is complete along with its solar installation. Officially opening in January 2019, the Community Production Cooperative will start a second round of Fabrication Lab training with the international Fab Lab Network.
Local Exchanges, Skill Shares, Events
We continued the practice of making investments in ourselves, our membership, and in the city of Jackson to lay the groundwork and build a transformative solidarity economy. Key to advancing our mission is building strategic relationships in the community and our ongoing efforts to bring “home” the “best practices” we learn to deepen, strengthen, and improve our work. These highlights show the intersection between our local, national and international work.
The Just Transition Forum We were proud to host this forum with the Building Equity for Alignment and Impact (BEAI) Alliance in February. The forum brought together over 200 climate justice and labor activists, educators, and funders from Jackson and throughout the country to build deeper political alignment towards a just transition between various social movements and progressive philanthropy.
The first North American EcoSocialist International Convergence Cooperation Jackson officially joined the first EcoSocialist International in November 2017. We were honored to host the first North American Convergence of the EcoSocialist International at the Kuwasi Balagoon Center April. The Convergence was co-hosted by EcoSocalist Horizons and the Red Path Collective.
Trueke Training The goal of our first Trueke Training was to educate our members about this solidarity to the practice and begin the slow process of incorporating it into our work and introducing it to Jackson. Conducted by Livio Rangel, one of the innovators of the modern Trueke system in Venezuela. The Trueke system is a communal practice designed to bring people together to exchange products, services, food, and knowledge, without the use of money.
“Seeds of Dignity” Film Showing We were proud to host Habib Ayeb’s, “Couscous: Seeds of Dignity” Thursday, June 14th at the Kuwasi Balagoon Center. Following the film showing, we held a discussion with director, Habib Ayeb and local activists and farmers from Jackson, engaging the intersections with our own political commitments and struggles against imperialism, (neo)colonialism, and racial capitalism. The documentary examines the centrality of the food/agrarian question to the Tunisian struggle for individual and collective human dignity, independence and sovereignty. We also explored ways to strengthen transnational solidarity around food sovereignty, food justice, land, labor and other justice struggles.
Block-Party Cooperation Jackson partnered with the Poindexter Neighborhood Association and Capitol Neighbors Association to host our first block party at Poindexter Park on Saturday, October 6th. We plan on hosting seasonal gatherings with our partners in 2019 to build greater alignment and unity in our neighborhood.
Art House/Tech House The Community Production Cooperative proudly hosted its first event at the Imari Obadele Center for Community Production on Friday, December 7th. The event featured works of local visual and graphic artists and exposed the community to the connection between graphic arts and all the dimensions of digital fabrication.The Community Production Cooperative aims to deepen and extend the connection with local artists as we intend to transform Jackson into a Fab City as part of our overall Transition City vision.
National & International Exchanges, Skill Shares, and Mobilizations
While developing Coops is a key part of our work, we aren’t just building coops for coop’s sake. We are trying to play our small part towards building a radical social movement in this country to transform the economy from the bottom up. A key part of our work since our inception is spreading the “social gospel” if you will, about the need to create politically-driven coops and solidarity economy institutions. We can’t allow Jackson to be an isolated progressive bubble within an overall sea of reaction, and we cannot afford for the Jackson-Kush Plan to be executed in isolation. We engage in a wide range of national and international alliances and exchanges to break out of the relative isolation of progressive forces in the south and to bring back vital resources and lessons to Jackson. These are some examples of how we are engaging in this type of solidarity and exchange.
Cooperation and Solidarity This event, featuring Kali Akuno and brandon king, focused on the lessons drawn from our work organizing to realize the Jackson-Kush Plan. The lessons we shared are summarized in “Jackson Rising”, which was published by Daraja Press in October 2017. The event was hosted by the Center for Political Education (CPE) and the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) and held at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, CA on Sunday, February 4th.
The Finnish Social Forum and Democratization and Movement Cooperation Jackson was proudly represented at these two events by brandon king. The Social Forum was held Helsinki, Finland and the Democratization and Movement summit was held in Gothenburg, Sweden. Both gatherings were held in April and were hosted by a collective of organizers from Sweden and the KSL Study Center and Consumer Association Foundation in Finland. We learned about the solidarity economy in the Norwegian region and from social solidarity activists and organizers aiming to build movements for participatory democracy and social transformation. The gatherings also centered on learning from our experiences here in Jackson, how we are building a solidarity economy. These elements were discussed at length at the Northern European Solidarity Economy meeting (NESEM) where various plans aiming to advance a program of Nordic Municipalism were discussed and critically investigated.
Learning from Jackson: Building a Solidarity Economy in Boston Kali Akuno, on behalf of Cooperation Jackson, worked with the Solidarity Economy Initiative (SEI) in Boston, Massachusetts to share some of the concrete lessons drawn from the struggle in Jackson. The forum was held on Saturday, April 28th at SEIU 32BJ. The forum primarily consisted of workshops and exchanges to build community, foster the development of a collective consciousness and inspire collective action for a solidarity economy movement in Massachusetts. One of the primary focuses of the forum was exploring strategies to lead a just transition from capitalism to economic democracy in the 21st century. Cooperation Jackson remains in active dialogue with the various forces in Boston who hosted this forum. We look forward to supporting their critical work, particularly the efforts of Ujimma to collectively pool their resources and create a genuine loan fund to support cooperative development from the ground up.
Homes for All South and #RenterPower2018 Assemblies Cooperation Jackson is a founding member of Homes For All (HFA) South, a regional organizing project of the Right to the City Alliance (RTC) to build power across local communities and cities, take back community control over land and housing and dignified, quality, affordable and sustainable homes for all people across the south and the country. Two of our core members attended the first HFA South Assembly this past May 4 - 7, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. As members of Right to the City and the larger Homes For All Campaign, we also attended the #RENTERPOWER2018: Homes for All Member Assembly where we participated in developing a 10-year strategy for our housing movement.
Building Post-Capitalist Futures and Transformative Cities We were honored to participate in the Transnational Institute (TNI) Fellows Meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in June. The meeting provided the opportunity for a rich exchange of perspectives and experiences, as well as deep discussion and debate. The goal of the meeting was to stimulate mutual learning, challenge one another and advance analyses. Read the Final Report and view the video of the gathering.
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Member Assembly
This summer as a member of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, we participated in the 7th Membership Assembly in Atlanta. We were among 120 people, representatives from across GGJ’s US membership and from international allied movements. Together we built relationships, deepened our analysis of the political context we face, and affirmed our way forward as a grassroots alliance.
The Fearless Cities North American Region Municipalist Summit The Regional Summit was held Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29th in New York City. It was the first ever municipalist summit in North America. Coordinated by Movement Netlab, New York University's (NYU) Collaborative on Global Urbanism, and Cooperation Jackson in partnership with the international Fearless Cities municipalist network, and led by an active steering committee made up of international stakeholders and organizers from Canada, Mexico, the United State and Puerto Rico. The three day summit helped to catalyze new avenues of work and deeper alliances amongst forces in the three countries. Cooperation Jackson is set to play host to the second Fearless Cities North American Regional Municipalist Summit in July 2019.
It Takes Roots: Solidarity to Solutions Week of Action From September 8th through September 13th Cooperation Jackson hosted a delegation of 15 members, supporters and allies from across Mississippi for the It Takes Roots Alliance’s Solidarity to Solutions Week in San Francisco, California. There we collectively challenged the false, market based “solutions’ being peddled at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown. We challenged the summit with various marches, demonstrations and civil disobedient direct actions and highlighting frontline community solutions to the interlinked economic, democratic and climate crises currently threatening humanity. Check out some live footage of the final action and members speaking at the rally.
The TransAtlantic Roundtable: Social Housing Sacajawea Hall, Community Land Trust coordinator, attended this annual international gathering. Organized by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - New York Office and the (US) Right to the City Alliance in New York City from October 11th through Saturday, October 13th. The exchange focused on Social Housing this year within the context of combating neoliberal housing policies being advanced in Europe and North America. Lessons were shared from various grassroots social movements on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and what we need to resist gentrification, forced displacement and the dictates of capital.
Special Education Events (Videos)
The Rojava Revolution and Democratic Confederalism, with Ercan Ayboga This discussion focused on the ideological, political and programmatic similarities between the Jackson-Kush Plan and the Charter of the Social Contract, which serves as the Constitution of the Rojava Cantons, guiding the revolutionary transformation of Syrian Kurdistan. Ercan shares his reflections on the radical experiment with democratic con-federalism amongst the various peoples and ethnicities of Syria, their work to build an anti-capitalist solidarity economy, to liberate women, and to restore the ecology.
The Transition from Capitalism: A Dialogue with Samir Amin and Firoze Manji Cooperation Jackson was extremely proud to host this dialogue with noted Marxist economist and social commentator Samir Amin and radical activist and publisher Firoze Manji on Saturday, February 17th. Sadly, this was one of Amin’s last lectures, as he passed away on August 12th. This dialogue focused on the question of the transition from capitalism and what role the solidarity economy can and must play in this transition.
Building a Social and Solidarity Economy This video was produced by the Reelnews from the United Kingdom. It was filmed during the EcoSocialist International Convergence in April and features the work of Cooperation Jackson and our ally, the Cooperative Community of New West Jackson.
Snap Shots of Media Coverage
“After Centuries of Housing Racism, a Southern City gets Innovative”, by Yes Magazine
“A Socialist Southern Strategy”, by Max Ajl
“Tech Democracy and Community Production”, on Future Left Radio
“The Radical Transformation of Jackson, Mississippi”, On Contact with Chris Hedges
“Countering the Fabrication Divide”, by Kali Akuno and Gyasi Williams
2019 promises to be exciting! Here is a little of what is to come:
Launching the Community Production Center with a member beginning the second round of Fabrication Laboratory training.
The expansion of Fannie Lou Hamer Community Land Trust with renovations to our current housing stock, rehab for several of the abandoned homes we presently own, and we are currently looking to acquire the West Park Shopping Center, and turn it into the Ida B. Wells Plaza.
Deepening the interconnection and inter-reliance of our institutions and activities.
Concentrating on the development of our first model Eco-Village Pilot on our Ewing Street properties to fortify and enhance the joint work of our four core entities: our emerging Community Production Cooperative, Freedom Farms Cooperative, the Green Team and our Community Land Trust.
Freedom Farms exploring permaculture-based designs and growing methods, with plans to establish a fruit orchard as part of the Ewing Street Eco-Village, experimenting with high-yield specialty crops and added-value products by farming on the additional, previously uncultivated plots of our Community Land Trust.
Restructuring our time to do more structured education amongst our staff, members and community around the concrete skills needed to create and facilitate democratic institutions.
Conducting a new orientation and training program for all of our members. This will be structured around our new membership manual (which we are still in the process of completing as of this statements release) and the new “Worker-Owner Workbook” produced by the Cincinnati Union Co-Op Initiative.
We look forward to keeping you up to date with our progress through out 2019!